Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fantastic Four Reborn

The Thing, played by Michael Chiklis in the first two movies, will be completely CGI in the new installment.

Screen Rant:
It would seem that the suits in charge of 20th Century Fox have heard the fans’ complaints because I have it from a source inside the Fox SFX department working on the Fantastic Four Reboot (officially titled Fantastic Four Reborn) that The Thing will officially be 100% CG.[...]

Another thing my source noted was that work on Fantastic Four Reborn has been put on the back burner until X-Men: First Class is in the can and shooting for that film doesn’t begin until September 21st, 2010. So it could be awhile before we see any images or graphics related to the Fantastic Four Reborn film.
I can see a CGI Thing working, especially if they go the Avatar route.

The one downside that I can see is that by making a new Fantastic Four movie, the rights won't revert back to Marvel. With the rights under Marvel, they have been able to bring in comic book writers as consultants on the scripts.

Personally, I think Marvel would do a better film. Granted, I own the other movies on DVD but mainly for the extra features.

Rabbi co-officiates for Clinton wedding

This was one of the many questions that were being asked in the lead-up to the highly anticipated Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding.

We now have the answer.

Chelsea Clinton was married under a chuppah in a ceremony co-officiated by a rabbi.

Rabbi James Ponet, head of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, was joined by Rev. William Shillady, a Methodist minister. Clinton and the groom, Marc Mezvinsky, reportedly were married under a chuppah, in a ceremony that featured friends and family reciting the seven traditional blessings and a ketubah, the traditional Jewish wedding contract. The event took place Saturday night before the end of the Jewish sabbath.

Mezvinsky, who is Jewish, wore a yarmulke and prayer shawl.

Ponet, a Reform rabbi, has been the Jewish chaplain at Yale since 1981. He currently teaches a college seminar with Dr. Ruth Westheimer on “The Family in the Jewish Tradition," according to the bio on the Slifka Center website. He and his wife, Elana, also "lead a weekly discussion in Slifka Dining Room on the value of peace in Jewish life and thought."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pineapple Express might get a sequel

The sad news is that SuperBad 2 will never see a day of light. However, things look brighter for Pineapple Express 2. The thing is, everyone that was involved with that is busy!

Evan Goldberg spoke with The Playlist last weekend.
" 'Pineapple 2' is something that we pressured the studio to do for a while, and they require no pressure. Everybody wants to do it, it’s just we all have the chance after the success of those movies to do whatever they want, and everybody took that chance, and they made 'Your Highness' and Judd went and made ["Funny People"] and we went and made stuff. I would not be surprised if we all got back and made 'Pineapple 2.' We have the whole story planned out. But I don’t know, it’s still a toss up. Because that movie I’m very proud of, I don’t want to tamper with it. It kind of begs a sequel, but I don’t know. 'Pineapple '2 is the most likely [Judd Apatow-produced project] with us all. We kind of made the classic mistake of people who had a successful film: we then booked everything we could because we thought it’d be our only chance. It still could be our only chance, but man are we booked."
The MTV Movies blog does note how busy everyone is.
For Rogen, be serious: don't you want to see "Jay and Seth Vs. the Apocalypse" already? The trailer is loved across the Internet, Rogen told us he really wants to do it -- direct it, even! -- and, well... it's a pretty original idea. Always a good thing, and sadly, increasingly hard to find.

Franco is already reuniting with Green and McBride for another stoner comedy, a different stoner comedy with a high fantasy (no pun intended) setting and starring himself, McBride, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel. He's also starring in "Rise of the Apes," the "Planet of the Apes" prequel. With Tom Felton, Brian Cox, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow and Andy Serkis.

Then there's McBride, a really funny guy who deserves more than a supporting comedic role. It's true that he'd likely have a much larger one in a "Pineapple" sequel, but it sounds like he's got just that in "Your Highness," which he also wrote. He's also set to join Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari in "30 Minutes or Less," a comedy from "Zombieland" director Ruben Fleischer.

And let's not forget Goldberg. He wrote "The Green Hornet," starring Rogen. He also wrote the upcoming hockey comedy "Goon" with Jay Baruchel. Then there's the small matter of "Jay and Seth" again, which he is co-writing with Rogen.
To be honest, of the Apatow movies that were made, nothing against Pineapple Express, but the movie that is really deserving of a sequel is Anchorman and Paramount really blew their opportunity. That's not to say that I wouldn't like to see a sequel, I would. It would need to have the same magic as the first movie. That's what Get Him to the Greek did not have. Yes I laughed a bit but it just didn't have the same magic as Forgetting Sarah Marshall did. As such, it did not do as well at the box office this summer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Roundup of bits...

The Pennsylvania senate race is being seen as a test for J Street. If only Arlen Specter had won the primary.

An ADL audit has found that incidents are at a troubling level.
The 2009 audit of anti-Semitic incidents, released Tuesday, recorded 1,211 incidents of vandalism, harassment and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions across the U.S. last year.

The number fell from the 1,352 incidents reported in 2008, but some of the decline was likely because of revised methodology for reporting and tracking incidents that was unveiled in the '09 audit, the ADL said.

In the latest audit, the incidents include 29 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 760 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment and threats, and 422 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism, according to the report.

Some incidents that occured in 2009 were not tallied under the new methodology, which takes a more conservative approach to counting certain types of incidents, including graffiti and swastikas.

“We know that the swastika has, for some, lost its meaning as the primary symbol of Nazism and instead become a more generalized symbol of hate," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said. "So we are being more careful to include graffiti incidents that specifically target Jews or Jewish institutions as we continue the process of re-evaluating and redefining how we measure anti-Jewish incidents.”

Major incidents included the shooting attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., by an avowed Holocaust denier, which led to the death of a security guard; a thwarted plot by four Muslim converts to bomb synagogues in Riverdale, N.Y.; and the repeated picketing of institutions and community centers by members of the avowedly anti-Semitic, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.

The states with the highest number of incidents were California, with 275 incidents; New York, 209 incidents; New Jersey, 132 incidents; and Florida, 90 incidents.
Oliver Stone apologized for his comments.
Stone in an interview with the Sunday Times also had said that "Jewish domination of the media" has prevented an honest discussion about the Holocaust.

“In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret,” Stone said in a statement released late Monday, the day after his remarks were published in the British newspaper.
Patrick Goldstein wonders if Haim Saban should tell CBS to drop the Stone series on Showtime.

Is Reform Judaism dying?

It's an interesting situation that we have with the future of Reform Judaism. Keep in mind that it's this denomination that intermarries more so than others. When I was a college freshman in 2003-04, one of my friends and I got into a discussion about the future of the Reform movement. He thought it would be dead in the next 20 years.
Two hundred years ago, on July 17 1810 in the town of Seesen in central Germany, Reform Judaism was born. Its mission was to modernise Judaism and create a bridge between Jewish life and the surrounding culture.

But, on the eve of its bicentenary, some observers question whether in another 200 years Reform Judaism will even exist.

Triumphant catcalls from Orthodox Jews grow ever louder. They pour scorn on Reform Judaism, and the Progressive movement it launched, as heretical and dilute, incapable of stopping its children riding off into the sunset with their non-Jewish spouses, its thinned-out pews sorrowful staging posts on the road to assimilation and the abandonment of millennia of Jewish survival against the odds.

Certainly, widespread assimilation is contributing to a rapid shrinkage of Jewish communities across the Diaspora. But is Progressive Judaism to blame?

Reform rabbis claim they offer an alternative to the stark opposites of Orthodoxy and assimilation. They say that far bigger chunks of the Jewish community would have already broken off and melted away, unwilling to follow orders of unworldly and unelected rabbis, were it not for the break with fundamentalism.

Take me out to the ballgame...

JTA has some fascinating history behind the song.
At the ballpark this summer, when you rise for the seventh-inning stretch to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” stretch a bit taller -- one of the song’s writers was Jewish.

The unofficial song of America’s pastime, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is the product of a Jewish-Episcopalian collaboration: Jewish songwriter Albert Von Tilzer wrote the melody, lyricist Jack Norworth penned the words.

Prior to writing baseball's hit tune, the lore goes, neither had attended a ballgame.

Their famous collaboration, which is sung publicly somewhere in the U.S. every day from mid-spring to early fall, is believed to trail only “Happy Birthday” and "The Star-Spangled Banner” as America’s most performed songs.

Since the sportscaster Harry Caray first began belting it out at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in the mid-1970s, and later at Wrigley Field, the song has become a regular feature at major league and minor league ballparks across America. They even sing it in Japan.

Yet considering the song’s fame, Norworth and Van Tilzen go largely unrecognized by baseball officialdom, and Von Tilzer scores barely a nod in the Jewish community. Their story resembles the song’s famous punchline: “and it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out at the old ball game.”

According to the Songwriters Hall of Fame website, Norworth wrote the lyrics to the universal seventh-inning stretch anthem in 1908 “while riding a New York City subway train.” He had spotted a sign that said "Ballgame Today at the Polo Grounds" and “baseball-related lyrics started popping into his head.”

His partner Von Tilzer already had a successful career in songwriting and music publishing in the Jewishly influenced Tin Pan Alley in New York when he wrote the music for what was to be his most enduring creation.[...]

Von Tilzer died in 1956 and Norworth three years later, but word now comes from AOL columnist Chris Epting in a story titled “Stepping Up to Bat for Jack Norworth” that in Southern California where Norworth is buried -- just a mile or two from the site of next week's Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Anaheim -- the stone marking his grave site is worn and barely readable.[...]

In an era of sheet music, “Von Tilzer wrote the music for 20 million copy-selling songs,” said Tim Wiles, director of research at The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., one of the authors of “Baseball’s Greatest Hit: The Story of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' ” with whom I recently spoke by phone.

Von Tilzer, who changed his name from Gumm (originally Gumbinski), was one of five brothers from Indiana who all had careers on Tin Pan Alley and in vaudeville.

The big question

As a member of the tribe, it's always saddening when people decide to marry outside the faith. So there's the big question: Will Chelsea Clinton convert?

Musicians mixing politics with art

Now, this is really saddening. There is some sort of "cultural intifada" against Israel. It's beyond explanation. I know these people claim to have principles and all but the minute I hear that a musician or actor refuses to visit Israel...or perform in Israel FOR THEIR FANS, they lose me as a fan forever. It's sad. I applaud the likes of Elton John that don't cancel.
Actress Meg Ryan's decision to cancel her appearance at this week’s Jerusalem Film Festival didn’t garner the same attention in Israel as British rocker Elvis Costello when he nixed his Israel concert this spring.

Both, however, were a reminder to Israelis that in the eyes of much of the world, Israel’s politics and culture are inseparable.

The cancellations were part of a string that Israel has experienced over the past few months, including appearances by the indie rock band The Pixies, singer Devendra Banhart, alternative rockers Gorillaz, the British band the Klaxons and American soul singer Gil Scott-Heron. In February, rock legend Carlos Santana withdrew from a sold-out performance reportedly due to pressure from pro-Palestinian groups.

Israelis have taken to calling this a “cultural intifada” -- borrowing a term used by the Palestinians to describe their uprisings against Israel.

"Intense pressure is being applied to foreign artists not to come to Israel," prominent Israeli promoter Shuki Weiss, who has brought such top-name acts to Israel as Madonna and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, told the Israeli business daily Globes.

After The Pixies canceled last month, Weiss called it “cultural terrorism.”

"I am full of both sorrow and pain in light of the fact that our repeated attempts to present quality acts and festivals in Israel have increasingly been falling victim to what I can only describe as a form of cultural terrorism which is targeting Israel and the arts worldwide," Weiss wrote in a statement.[...]

Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar, whose 2007 movie "Beaufort" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, told JTA that the refusal of artists to perform in Israel is a kind of collective punishment of the culture-loving public -- often the very public that is "extra critical of Israeli policies.”

Cedar said that while he believes a boycott is "a legitimate way for an artist to express his political views,” they should be political views the artist has consistently and publicly held.

Some artists appear to be concerned that their performances in Israel will be perceived as a political endorsement of Israel's policies.[...]

After coming under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups such as the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Jethro Tull reaffirmed that it would be playing three concerts in Israel in early August.

Front man Ian Anderson said in a statement linked to the concert dates that he has "long maintained the position that culture and the arts should be free of political and religious censorship and a distance kept between them." Anderson also said he would donate his concert proceeds to charities promoting coexistence.

Others have been more unabashedly warm toward Israel. In mid-June, Elton John, who has donated money to Israeli causes, played before an enthusiastic crowd.[...]

Musicians Rod Stewart and Rihanna also performed in Israel last month. And on Sunday, Ynet reported that American singer Missy Elliott announced that after pressure to cancel her July 15 show in Tel Aviv, she will arrive in Israel a day early to tour the country with her entourage of dancers and crew.
Musicians that cancel appearances under pressure are denying their fans the ability to see them live.

Elvis Costello is nowhere on my "to listen to" music playlist. His cancelling an appearance in Israel is a slap in the face.

UPDATE: After a commenter mentioned something, I did find this.
It took two phone calls to Hoffman’s agent and publicist — and an e-mail to Ryan’s publicist — to get Hoffman’s and Ryan’s side of the story: It was false.

Hoffman did not pull out of the Jerusalem Film Festival to boycott Israel. He had never committed to going.

Ryan, through her publicist, said the same thing: She had been invited but had never accepted.

“Meg did not pull out of the Jerusalem Film Festival, as she never accepted the offer to attend,” her publicist, Stephen Huvane,e-mailed me. “She was invited, but her schedule did not allow her to attend the festival.”

The Jerusalem Post and The New York Times eventually printed small retractions to the initial large Hoffman stories, although the reports of a major Hollywood star “boycotting” Israel still show up as fact on myriad blogs and Web sites.
Eshman does make a brilliant point when it comes to artists that do consider boycotting Israel:
If a client calls and wonders aloud if boycotting Israel is the right thing to do, here are three questions and a suggestion his or her agent can offer:

1. Are your facts correct? The Middle East crisis is a cesspool of misinformation. Breaking news stories are the most susceptible to lies and spin. The initial reports following the shooting of Muhammed al-Dura, the so-called massacre at Jenin, even the flotilla raid all proved exaggerated, misleading or false. Before you decide, make sure you get the facts.

2. Are you being fair? Israel is an imperfect democracy. But poll after poll shows its people want to reach a just resolution to its problems with the Palestinians, and numerous Israeli governments have tried. For all its flaws, Israel doesn’t come close to the levels of social and political oppression, injustice, occupation, resource theft or cruelty that is common in Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Syria or Egypt — to name a few. The American invasion and occupation of Iraq killed more innocents in seven years than Israel ever would or could — but no one’s boycotting the Staples Center. Why single out Israel?

3. Are you being effective? Once you are informed and you put Israel’s transgressions in perspective, by all means take the right action — speak out. But speak out against extremists and fanatics on all sides. That’s the real battle here: between fanatics on all sides who want to perpetuate hate and deny the other side’s rights, and moderates on all sides who want a better future for their children. The band Jethro Tull donated proceeds from a concert to groups that bridge gaps between Jews and Arabs. Use your platform to support the many people in Israel fighting for a just solution. The artistic, musical and film communities are at the forefront of this struggle — your support for them can really make a difference.

Adam McKay talks Other Guys and Will Ferrell

Adam McKay has really made a name for himself since his days as head writer for Saturday Night Live. McKay has directed films such as Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers.

McKay has opened up about what it is like to work with Will Ferrell along with his upcoming film, The Other Guys.

McKay: There was one big one. When you see it, you'll know what it is. It's this shouting match between Wahlberg and Ferrell. It involves a tuna fighting a lion. It'll make sense when you see it. It was totally improvised on the spot. It came from one line that Mark had, and I just started yelling out ideas to Will, and he started playing with it. It's one of the funnier moments in the movie.[...]


McKay: Oh, it constantly changes. You go from the '50s, which was more like Sid Caesar, Milton Berle dressed in drag, kind of silly, but also they had the Button-Down Generation, May and Nichols. And then coming into the '70s there was much more of that anti-authoritarian comedy. National Lampoon with "Buy this magazine or we'll kill this puppy," or whatever that famous cover was. That went right into "SNL," and that carried all the way through the '80s. Then there was kind of a weird period in the '90s where it became sort of this cocky, strutty, over-the-top kind of humor, and a lot of humor about people getting over but more in a selfish way. It was almost like "Ferris Bueller" signaled that in a way. It was in the '70s that you were against power because it was corrupt and f---ed up. And then in the '90s, you were against everything because you wanted to get over on yourself. Then there was the last ten years, which would be the more flawed lead people, whether it's what we do with the prideful lead character who's actually kind of ridiculous, and it was making fun of that pride that we had seen in the previous decade. Then Apatow did it more in a sexually inexperienced, immature kind of way. That still works pretty well, there's still enough f---ed up authority that's interesting to play with, but there's definitely a change a'comin.


McKay: My theory is that we're coming off 20 to 30 years of an aggressive apolitical point of view. Like, if you say the word "politics" people's eyes roll back and they start to get bored. That was not the case in the '60s and the '50s. So that would be my guess, you're going to see a really precise, outraged kind of comedy. The stuff that's going on is just so over-the-top, with the banking crisis and destroying the Gulf of Mexico, and the outrage hasn't quite caught up with the people yet. But when it does, I think you're going to see really virulent anti-authoritarian kind of comedy coming out.

Adult comedies lacking in 2010 summer

One thing that has been missing from this summer's crop of movies is the adult comedy. That changes with Dinner for Schmucks and The Other Guys.
The live-action comedy, which just a few years ago was one of Hollywood's most bankable genres, has little to laugh about this year. Among the top 10 films so far in 2010, the only comedies are animated movies: Toy Story 3 (No. 1 at $380.6 million), Shrek Forever After ($234.9 million), Despicable Me ($164.4 million). You have to go to No. 11, Grown Ups (143.2 million), to find a hit comedy with human beings.

Just last year, The Hangover was 2009's biggest surprise. Before that you had Pineapple Express (2008), Knocked Up(2007) and The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005).[...]

"It's kind of a fluky thing," says director Jay Roach, who launched the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents franchises.

"I don't think there's a type of movie that connects people like a comedy," Roach says. "The Hangover was so much fun to watch in a theater. I'm not sure what's happening, but I'll happily try to fill that void."

He'll do so with Dinner for Schmucks, starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. The film, about an executive (Rudd) who joins in a contest to find the biggest buffoon (Carell), opens Friday.

(Carell spans both animated and adult-comedy genres this year. He is the voice of the lead character in Despicable Me. His last outing in the adult-comedy genre, Date Night, is No. 17 for 2010 at $98.4 million.)

Roach says one reason animated films overtook the comedy landscape "is because they have years to work on a script while they work on the animation. Live-action comedies don't have that luxury of time."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jay Roach explains Beatles' presence in Schmucks

I had a chance to see an advanced screening of Dinner for Schmucks, which I highly recommend to comedy fans.

Anyway, Dinner for Schmucks director Jay Roach explains how he was able to get a Beatles song in the soundtrack.
For Roach, having "Fool on the Hill" was invaluable because, as he told me, he'd been wrestling with how to give audiences an early glimpse of Carell, even though his character--a lonely loser--isn't actually on screen for the first 15-or-so minutes of the film. As the song plays, we see someone constructing intricate dioramas populated with dead mice, which as we later learn, depict images from Carell's character's long-gone marriage. "I'd been floundering a little with how the movie should start and when our music editor put the song on, it just worked," said Roach.

So Roach did what filmmakers do best. He wrote a long letter to Paul McCartney, making it clear that there was no possible substitute for having "Fool on the Hill." "It helped I think that we'd done an homage to 'A Hard Day's Night' in the first 'Austin Powers' film, which I'd heard had been well received," Roach explained. It also probably helped that Roach's wife, Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, had met McCartney a couple of times and was a serious Beatles fan, having covered "Got to Get You Into My Life" with Matthew Sweet a few years ago.

"Still, I think the letter helped," Roach said. "I wrote it as if I were the Minister of Storytelling, telling Paul all about the character that Carell plays, with all its irony and sweetness and sadness, and how the song really captured the mood of what was going on. And I admitted that I couldn't think of any other way to start the film."

Roach sent McCartney footage of the opening sequence, with the song playing over it, and--voila--permission was granted. The song didn't come cheap. Paramount/DreamWorks reportedly paid $1.5 million for its usage. But the song sets a perfect tone for the film, neatly capturing the melancholy spirit that is at the heart of Carell's performance, so I'd say it was worth all 150 million pennies.

UPDATE: Paramount is saying it paid less than a million for the Beatles song, though it wouldn't provide a precise figure. In dollars or pennies.
I'm with Roach...there was no other song that could have covered how that film started. It actually works better this way.

In Apatow news...

Variety notes that the usual Apatow gang appears to be on the right path.

In Disney's "Sorcerer's Apprentice," which hit theaters July 14, Jay Baruchel's young magician studies under a wizened vet to become a world-class conjurer. In his real-life career, Baruchel also studied under a mentor who showed the young thesp how to expand his skill set.
Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Aziz Ansari are parlaying their success as regular actors in Judd Apatow films by branching out into new roles as writers and directors.

Segel is penning "The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made," Hill is rebooting the "21 Jump Street" TV series as a feature (writing producing and starring), while Baruchel and Ansari are each writing original projects.

But it's not just those guys; Apatow helped produce such pics as Seth Rogen's first two big writing gigs, "Pineapple Express" and "Superbad," as well as Segel's first writing job, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."[...]

After working with Ansari on "Funny People," Apatow brainstormed with Ansari and his writing partner Jason Woliner on some ideas they'd been tossing around, including a spinoff of Ansari's character in the film, Randy.[...]

"It really helps having Judd support your project when you are pitching it to other people, especially when it is so hard to get somebody to listen to your original idea in the first place," Ansari says.

Acting in an Apatow film can get you attention, but having Apatow work with you on an idea will get studio execs to look at your script.

While Ansari enjoys having control over characters, deciding whether he will continue with his writing is still up in the air.

"You can wake me up at any time of day and tell me to pretend to be someone, and I'll be like, 'OK,'?" Ansari says. "Now wake me up and ask me to write a script, and it's not as easy."
Seth Rogen will be directing Jay and Seth Vs. The Apocalypse.
"Me and Evan [Goldberg] are writing it right now, actually, and it's come along way and it will probably be one of the next movies that we make, I would imagine," Rogen said.[...]

"It takes years to write a goods movie, that's what we've learned. We're finally going to script form. Once you're there, you're kind of on the home stretch. It means you have the key ideas to build the movie," he said.[...]

But the most exciting news that came out of the interview was not that the movie was almost finished being written, but that Rogen might be the one behind the camera filming it. "I think me and Evan might direct it, which might be a big step for us," he said.

"It's a great lesson in filmmaking, honestly, that we made the trailer for the movie and now we're getting to make the movie, which is really great," Rogen added.
Alan Krinsky has 8 reasons for why "leftists" should be Pro-Israel.

In summary, here are the eight reasons why. You can click the link for more.
1. Human Rights
2. Internationalism
3. Peace
4. Anti-Authoritarianism
5. Human Dignity and Equality
6. Anti-Discrimination
7. Self-Defense
8. Progress.

Meet Kentucky's Latest Nightmare

Billy Ray Wilson is not just the newest candidate to the United States Senate race in Kentucky but he is the latest in a series of national nightmares for Kentucky.

Through articles on his website, Wilson appears to subscribe to the "conspiracy theory" beliefs of filmmaker Oliver Stone and others.

What's worse? This character makes Rand Paul appear to be sane.

I condemn Wilson's comments about the Jewish religion.

Stoudemire has Jewish roots

Here's something you don't find every day: NBA players with Jewish mothers.
U.S. Basketball star Amar'e Stoudemire is apparently on his way to Israel for a voyage of discovery after learning he has Jewish roots.

"On the flight to Israel. This is going to be a great trip," announced the power forward, who plays in the NBA for the New York Knicks, via the micro-blogging site Twitter.

According to an Army Radio report, Stoudemire plans to spend time in Israel learning Hebrew, having recently learned he has a Jewish mother.

"The holy land. Learn about it," he wrote, adding "ze ha'halom sheli" – Hebrew for 'this is my dream'

News of Stoudemire's trip quickly had Israeli basketball fans buzzing with speculation that they might one day see him playing alongside another Jewish NBA star, Israel's Omri Caspi, on the national team.
“The Holy Land has always been high on my list of places to visit, and when this opportunity arose, I wasn’t going to push it off any longer,” Stoudemire told The Jerusalem Post as he ate dinner at one of the capital’s fine kosher establishments with his girlfriend, Alexis. “I’m here for a vacation and to get some rest before the season.”

I am “so excited to be here,see all the important historical sites, learn Hebrew and to get a better understanding of my heritage,” he said.[...]

“I don’t really consider myself to be a religious person, but rather a deeply spiritual individual,” Stoudemire told the Post.

“I have been aware since my youth that I am a Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development,” he went on.

“I have never hid my spiritual roots,” he said. “They just weren’t something that came under the spotlight.”[...]

“I am proud to be a Hebrew and embrace my Jewish background,” he said Told that his new status might give him more “street cred” in his new home – as New York has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel – Stoudemire laughed deeply and said, “I look forward to that.

“I’d like to thank all my fans in Israel and my supporters worldwide,” he added. “I plan on having a great vacation and learning a whole lot as well.”[...]

Stoudemire’s Twitter announcement had both the sports and Jewish worlds abuzz on Wednesday, with news organizations and bloggers speculating as to what a Jewish Stoudemire might mean.

“#1 Jewish athlete of all time” was the most common online response to the news, although others expressed hope that Stoudemire would join his NBA colleague, small forward Omri Casspi – who plays for the Sacramento Kings – on the Israeli national basketball team.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Please vote, I beg you...

Do you like Mad Men? It's a hit show on AMC. WEll, anyway, please vote for my cousin, Josh. You can vote here!

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Hall of Fame rules are now in effect

ESPN reports that the Baseball Hall of Fame has new rules that are now in effect for future elections.
Candidates will be reviewed in three eras: Pre-Integration (1871-1946), Golden (1947-1972) and Expansion (starting in 1973).

One composite ballot will be considered in each era. The Expansion Era ballot will include 12 candidates, while the Golden and Pre-Integration era ballots each will have 10.

The changes were announced Monday. The first election in the Expansion category will be held in December during the winter meetings in Orlando, Fla. The Golden election will take place in 2011 and the Pre-Integration vote will be held in 2012.

"The board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates," Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement.[...]

A voting committee of 16 members for each era will be appointed annually by the Hall's board of directors. Each committee will be comprised of Hall of Fame members, major league executives, and historians/veteran media members. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of ballots cast will earn election.

Those eligible for consideration include: players who played in at least 10 major league seasons who are not on Major League Baseball's ineligible list and have been retired for 21 or more seasons; and managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years.

Candidates who are 65 years or older are eligible six months following retirement, and executives retired for at least five years and active executives 65 years or older also are eligible.


An employee for the UNRWA used an official email address to incite hatred towards Jews.

Lee Fisher staffer quits, will work for Jack Conway

Maybe this is the move that Jack Conway needed to do all along?

Political Wire reports:
The spokesman for Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Lee Fisher (D) has quit the campaign to go to work for Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway (D), the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

It's just one staffer's decision -- but it reflects what many Democratic insiders feel about the chances of each candidate.
Cincinnati Enquirer:
The campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lee Fisher, which is on its third campaign manager this year, is now losing another key staffer – press secretary John Collins, who is leaving to go to work for Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Kentucky.

A Fisher campaign source said Monday the parting was “mutual and amicable.” Collins has been on the job for the past eight months, during which time the Fisher campaign has had three campaign managers -Geri Prado, Jay Howser, and, as of last month, Lynne Bowman, the foudner of Equality Ohio.

Kragthorpe resigns

Steve Kragthorpe has resigned his position as Texas A&M's wide receivers coach due to family medical issues that are more important at this time.
Steve Kragthorpe has resigned as Texas A&M's wide receivers coach to deal with unspecified family medical issues, the school said Monday.

Kragthorpe was in his first year at A&M as an assistant under Mike Sherman. He previously coached at Tulsa and at Louisville, where he was fired following last season. He also served as assistant under R. C Slocum at Texas A&M from 1997-2000.

"My family is dealing with some medical issues and they need me at home," Kragthorpe said in a statement released by the university. "The timing could not be helped and I hate to leave Coach Sherman and the guys at this time."

Sherman said he had hoped Kragthorpe could return this season once his family's health issues were resolved.

"Ultimately, he felt his wife Cynthia, and his three boys, required his undivided attention and I respect him for that," Sherman said. "Steve is not only an excellent coach, but he is an even better person. We will keep him and his family in our prayers."

Kragthorpe went 15-21 in three seasons at Louisville and was fired at the end of the 2009 season. He came to Louisville from Tulsa, where he went to three bowl games in four seasons.

Alan Dershowitz takes on J Street...again

Alan Dershowitz took on J Street yet again. I'm posting this op-ed in it's entirety:
Op-Ed: J Street’s McCarthyism
By Alan Dershowitz · July 21, 2010

J Street, the leftist lobbying organization that claims to be pro-Israel, is running a television ad that divides the world into two groups: the good guys who support the two-state solution, the end of the occupation and peace; and the bad guys who oppose these results and instead favor a continuation of violence.

Pictured as representing the pro-peace position are President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus. Pictured as representing the anti-peace, anti-two-state, pro-expansion of settlements and pro-violence position are Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Malcolm Hoenlein (executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations) and, you guessed it, me!

Now Jeremy Ben-Ami, who runs J Street and is responsible for the ad, knows full well that I support the two-state solution and peace, and have opposed Israeli settlements since he was in diapers. (I began publicly supporting the two-state solution in 1970 and opposing settlements in 1973.)

Ben-Ami knows this because we debated each other at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and he publicly acknowledged that I support these positions. He knows that I wrote a book, “The Case For Peace,” advocating precisely these positions and praised by President Clinton ("the blueprint for stability presented in this book is among the best in recent years"), Amos Oz (an "enthusiastic voice for peace") and other advocates of a peaceful resolution.

Why, then, would he falsely lump me with Limbaugh and Palin when he knows that I fundamentally disagree with their positions? Why would Ben-Ami knowingly put out an ad containing such defamatory McCarthyism? (Joe McCarthy infamously lumped together liberals with communists, and progressives with Stalinists.)

There are several possible reasons.

First, it could be that Ben-Ami cannot tolerate the idea that there are liberals, like me and Professor Irwin Cotler of Canada, who support the two-state solution, the end of the occupation and peace while fundamentally disagreeing with J Street's general negativity toward Israel. As I argued during the debate and other occasions, J Street and I tend to agree on many substantive issues. But I publicly focus on the 80 percent of issues on which there is broad consensus within the pro-Israel community, whereas J Street focuses on the 20 percent of issues on which there is disagreement, such as keeping the military option against Iran on the table, condemning the Goldstone Report and defending the use of self-defense during the flotilla confrontation.

It would have been fair for J Street to have an ad putting me on the other side of those issues. But for Ben-Ami to try to persuade the public that I oppose the two-state solution (as Limbaugh does), favor expansion of the settlements (as Palin does) and oppose peace is simply a lie, and a deliberate one at that. No softer word will suffice.

Another possible reason why J Street decided to include me in their insidious ad is to appeal to hard-left elements such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and others who pay lip service to supporting Israel while condemning everything the Jewish state stands for. Ben-Ami is trying to build a large organization and in order to attract the hard left, he finds it useful to demonize me because the hard left hates my liberal support for Israel.

The J Street ad is fraudulent in yet another way: It suggests that I am saying certain words but the voice is not mine. Thousands of my words, in my actual voice, are available on YouTube, but none of them have me opposing the two-state solution or favoring expansion of the settlements or opposing peace. So they just make it up by including a video of me with my lips moving and a dubbed voiceover suggesting that they have me (along with the others) on videotape opposing the two-state solution. (All the videos have moving lips, but some include words actually spoken by the person in the video -- watch it and judge for yourself.)

If this were a political campaign ad, J Street would be in deep trouble. But this is even worse because it is an attempt to deceive the public into thinking that mainstream supporters of Israel all favor the expansion of settlements and oppose the two-state solution and peace.

J Street continues to destroy its credibility by posting deceptive ads of this kind. If they are willing to mislead the public in this manner, they should not be trusted to tell the truth about anything relating to Israel. They are more interested in increasing their own power and contributions than they are in supporting Israel or promoting truthful dialogue.

If J Street wants to have any chance at restoring its credibility, it must begin to tell the truth. A good first step would be to remove this ad and admit that it was fraudulent Otherwise, everyone will begin to understand what the J in J Street stands for: Joe McCarthy.

Oliver Stone: Hitler is Misunderstood Due to "Jewish-Dominated Media"

Oliver Stone has his ups and downs. This is most certainly a down. How can a brilliant filmmaker like Oliver Stone fall into the trap that was caused by propoganda such as the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".

Stone in an interview with the Sunday Times also said that "Jewish domination of the media" has prevented an honest discussion about the Holocaust.[...]

The article by reporter Camilla Long is not available online without a paid subscription to the newspaper, although British bloggers and other newspapers have printed excerpts.

During the interview, Stone said that Jews were dictating U.S. foreign policy and that the Jewish lobby "are hard workers."

"They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington," he said, adding that Israel has messed up U.S. foreign policy "for years."

Stone, the winner of three Academy Awards, including as best director for "Platoon" and "Born on the Fourth of July," has a Jewish father. He also directed such films as "Wall Street," "JFK" and "Nixon."

On Hitler, Stone said that the German leader “did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 million. Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein -- German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.”

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, in a brief statement said that "We are deeply offended. These are words of hate and a disgraceful evocation of anti-Semitism. Shame on Oliver Stone."

Israel's public diplomacy minister, Yuli Edelstein, also condemned Stone's remarks.

"They are nauseating, anti-Semitic and racist," the Jerusalem Post quoted Edelstein as saying. "Not only is he showing ignorance, he is demonizing Jews for no reason and returning to the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'

"When a man of Stone's stature speaks in this way, it can bring waves of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, and may even damage Jewish communities and individuals."
I condemn Stone's comments as well.

Joe Gandelman has a brilliant reply.

The 2011 Baseball Hall of fame Ballot

BBWAA voters can vote up to ten candidates. Blyleven and Alomar were just ten ballots short during the last election.

Those that I would vote for are in bold.

Returning candidates:
Bert Blyleven, 14 (287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts)
Roberto Alomar, 2 (2724 hits, a career .300 average, 12x all star, 10 gold gloves)
Jack Morris, 12
Barry Larkin, 2 (3 gold gloves, 12x all star)
Lee Smith, 9 (478 saves)
Edgar Martinez, 2
Tim Raines, 4 (2605 hits, 808 stolen bases)
Mark McGwire, 5 (583 home runs)
Alan Trammell, 10
Fred McGriff, 2 (493 home runs)
Don Mattingly, 11
Dave Parker, 15
Dale Murphy, 13
Harold Baines, 5 (2866 hits)

First time candidates:
Wilson Alvarez
Carlos Baerga
Jeff Bagwell
Bret Boone
Kevin Brown
Cal Eldred
John Franco
Juan González
Marquis Grissom
Bobby Higginson
Charles Johnson
Al Leiter
Tino Martinez
Raúl Mondesí
José Offerman
John Olerud
Rafael Palmeiro
Paul Quantrill
Steve Reed
Kirk Rueter
Rey Sánchez
Benito Santiago
B. J. Surhoff
Ugueth Urbina
Ismael Valdez
Larry Walker (career .300 avg, 383 home runs, 7 gold gloves)
Dan Wilson

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Phone ettiquette 101

Pardon the interruption but if you are running a campaign, last I checked was that if the media wants to interview you, YOU RETURN A PHONE CALL AND SET UP AN INTERVIEW!

There is nothing that does more harm to credibility and reputation than by running away from an interview.

I'm just saying this. I'm getting tired of reading how Jack Conway's advisors are ignoring the media and ditching interview.

Excerpt from Jake:
The back story? His staff has been ignoring her calls for two weeks. All this after he agreed to appear on the show this week.

If Jack can’t handle Mandy, how can he handle the U.S. Senate?

And, really, staffers? Not returning calls? It’s understandable that they’re passive-aggressive with me because I tell the truth about them. It’s even understandable that they’d ignore calls from MSNBC and make up excuses for not appearing on ABC. But come on.

I’m completely embarrassed on a personal and professional level for his candidacy. Tired of defending him and giving his staffers chance after chance.
We CANNOT forget what happened to Ted Kennedy's seat. We cannot take victory for granted.

Calipari cancels fundraiser

Calipari cites personal matters but my belief is that there were boosters that criticized the coach's behavior in hosting a political fundraiser. There was an uproar in the fall when he sent a jersey and book to the president.

Herald Leader:

Within hours after the media began reporting Wednesday that University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari would host a $1,000-a-person fund-raiser at his Lexington home for Gov. Steve Beshear, Calipari changed his mind.

"I hope by now you all realize that I don't take my position as your basketball coach lightly," Calipari said on his Facebook page about 9:40 p.m. "I know how politically charged this state is and I recognize that the Big Blue Nation comes from both sides of the aisle. I appreciate every elected official who supports the University of Kentucky, regardless of party.

"That said, the governor's event planned for August 11 — along with other charitable functions scheduled for our home — have been canceled after realizing the full plate of both professional and pressing, personal matters I will be tending to in the next couple of months. Ellen and I do hope this discussion will lead you to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming elections."[...]

Calipari isn't the only Kentucky coach to have been stung by brushes with politics. In 1996, then-UK coach Rick Pitino irritated some fans by appearing onstage with President Bill Clinton during his re-election campaign.

Pitino later said U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, wrote in a letter to him that he was no longer a UK basketball fan because Pitino introduced Clinton, a Democrat, at an election eve campaign rally at UK.

Pitino said his distaste for politics was intensified by Bunning's letter.

In the invitation letter to the Beshear fund-raiser, Calipari said Beshear and his wife, Jane, "have welcomed our family to the commonwealth with open arms and this opportunity will be one for Ellen and me to both thank Governor Beshear and the first lady and also to continue the robust discussion he has led on economic development — despite these difficult times."

The Democratic governor held a reception for Calipari at the Governor's Mansion in May 2009.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Obama's popularity fading

The latest Quinnipac poll numbers have come out. President Obama's newest numbers? They aren't pretty. Not even close.
In this latest survey of more than 2,000 voters, independent voters disapprove of Obama 52 - 38 percent and say 37 - 27 percent they would vote for a Republican contender in 2012.

American voters also say 48 - 40 percent Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012.[...]

"It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America's love affair with President Barack Obama began to wane. In July of 2009, the President had a 57 - 33 percent approval rating. Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52 - 37 percent approval to 52 - 38 percent disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012," said Peter A. Brown., assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"In politics a month is a lifetime and we have 28 months until November of 2012. But politicians with re-elect numbers at 40 percent bear watching," Brown added.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Glenn Beck could go blind

Wow. I came back home from reading Eicha to read this sad piece of news. I disagree with the guy but no one should have to suffer with not being able to see, even if it is someone such as Glenn Beck.
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck says he has been diagnosed with macular dystrophy, a progressive eye disorder that could cause him to go blind.

Speaking to an audience over the weekend, Beck, a Mount Vernon, Wash. native, talked about how he's been losing the ability to focus his eyes. He says he went to his doctor a couple of weeks ago.

"He did all kinds of tests and he said, 'you have macular dystrophy could go blind in the next year. Or, you might not,'" said Beck.

Beck tearfully began talking about the things he looks at, like his wife and children, and that he loves to read, followed by joking about how he is too lazy to learn Braille.

Before making the announcement, the vocal opponent to Pres. Obama's health care reform set up his story saying "I went to the best doctor I could find, while I could still go to the best doctor I can find." The reported crowd of 6,000 in Salt Lake City laughed and applauded in approval.
You have to appreciate that he can laugh at himself though with regards to a sensitive subject.

Tisha B'Av

From sundown tonight to sundown tomorrow night, Jews around the world will be mourning in observance of Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av.

Historically, everything bad that has happened to the Jewish people has happened on the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av.

Here are the big five incidents:
◦During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)

◦The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)

◦The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)

◦The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)

◦The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.
Other misfortunes:
1.The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.

2.World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

3.On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
The laws of Tisha B'Av go into effect at sundown tonight:
Upon sundown, the laws of Tisha B'Av commence -- consisting of the following expressions of mourning:

1. No eating or drinking until nightfall the following evening.
-Pregnant and nursing women are also required to fast. If one suspects it could be harmful to the baby or mother, a rabbi should be consulted.
-A woman within 30 days after birth need not fast.
-Others who are old, weak, or ill should consult with a rabbi. (MB 554:11)
-Medicine may be taken on Tisha B'Av, preferably without water.
-In case of great discomfort, the mouth may be rinsed with water. Great care should be taken not to swallow anything. (MB 567:11)

2. Other prohibitions include:
-Any bathing or washing, except for removing specific dirt -- e.g. gook in the eyes (OC 554:9, 11). (Upon rising in the morning, before prayers, or after using the bathroom, one washes only the fingers. See OC 554:10, OC 613:3, MB 554:26)
-Anointing oneself for pleasure. (Deodorant is permitted.)
-Having marital relations.
-Wearing leather shoes. (Leather belts may be worn.)(see: ?Laws of Shoes and Chairs?)
-Learning Torah, since this is a joyful activity. It is permitted to learn texts relevant to Tisha B'Av and mourning -- e.g. the Book of Lamentations, Book of Job, parts of Tractate Moed Katan, Gittin 56-58, Sanhedrin 104, Yerushalmi end of Ta'anis, and the Laws of Mourning. In-depth study should be avoided. (MB 554:4)

3. Other mourning practices include:
-Sitting no higher than a foot off the ground. After midday, one may sit on a chair. (OC 559:3)(see: "Laws of Shoes and Chairs")
-Not engaging in business or other distracting labors, unless it will result in a substantial loss. (OC 554:24)
-Refraining from greeting others or offering gifts. (OC 554:20)
-Avoiding idle chatter or leisure activities.
-Following Tisha B'Av, all normal activities may be resumed, except for the following which are delayed until midday of the 10th of Av, because the burning of the Temple continued through the 10th of Av:
-Haircuts and washing clothes. (When Tisha B'Av falls out on Thursday, these are permitted immediately following Tisha B'Av, in honor of the coming Shabbat.)
-Bathing. (When Tisha B'Av falls out on Thursday, bathing is permitted on Friday morning.)
-Eating meat and wine.
-Music and swimming.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Netanyahu opposes Conversion Bill

Israel's prime minister says he will oppose a bill on conversions to Judaism that has angered liberal Jewish groups worldwide.

Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he fears the legislation making its way through Israel's parliament would create a rift in the Jewish world.

Last week, a parliamentary committee in Israel gave preliminary approval to draft legislation that would give Orthodox rabbis in Israel more control over conversions, a sensitive issue that goes to the heart of the age-old question of who is a Jew.

The majority of Jews outside Israel belong to the Reform and Conservative movements whose religious practices are less strict.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Due Date: The Trailer

From Todd Phillips, the director of last summer's Golden Globe award-winning comedy, The Hangover, comes Due Date, starring Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan and Jamie Foxx. It will be released on November 5 (coincidentally, that is the release date of MegaMind, starring Will Ferrell--The Hangover and Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost were released on the same day last June).

The Conversion Bill

I've seen a few letters relating to the Conversion bill. Honestly, I can see the argument from both sides. From a standpoint of Halacha, I can see an argument relating to Reform conversions because those are not, as far as I know, legal conversions. There are Orthodox shuls that recognize Conservative conversions but not Reform ones. From another standpoint, it alienates the secular Diaspora and the liberal diaspora--at least those underwent a conversion, of course. Both Orthodox and Conservative movements recognize the child of a Jewish mother as being Jewish. The reform movement doesn't. They allow for any child of at least one Jewish parent to be considered Jewish, which goes against Halachic rulings.

The Jerusalem Post, considered the more conservative paper, has issued a strong editorial against the bill.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky called it “betrayal.” The executive vice president of the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Julie Schoenfeld, referred to it as “destructive.” Reform Movement head Rabbi Eric Yoffie said it was “astonishing, foolish, disruptive.”

Diaspora Jewry’s leadership has reacted with dismay to Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem’s decision to ram through the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee – albeit for a preliminary reading – legislation that essentially hands a monopoly over conversions to the Orthodox establishment.

And rightly so. Rotem’s legislation was originally designed to streamline the conversion process for tens of thousands of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union – a mainstay of Israel Beiteinu’s constituency – who received automatic Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return as relatives or descendants of Jews, but who are not Jewish according to Halacha and therefore suffer from various forms of discrimination, such as not being allowed to marry.

But during the parliamentary give and take, haredi legislators’ wrangling morphed Rotem’s legislation into a precedent-making conferral of “responsibility over conversions” to a particularly uncompromising stream of Orthodoxy presently controlling the chief rabbinate.

Diaspora Jews fear this Orthodox rabbinic establishment, which does not hide its contempt for liberal forms of Jewish expression, will roll back previous advances, such as the recognition of conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis abroad. If ratified, indeed, the bill would dispel the blissful ambiguity that has governed the status of the chief rabbinate in the field of conversions at a particularly inopportune time.

IN RECENT years, discussion among Jewish leaders and thinkers both in Israel and in the Diaspora has gradually moved away from narrow definitions of Judaism based on religious and ethnic criteria toward a broader more inclusive concept known as “peoplehood.” First coined by Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, peoplehood is “the awareness which an individual has of being a member of a group that is known, both by its own members and by outsiders, as a people.”

Revival of Kaplan’s “peoplehood,” evidenced most prominently in the Jewish Agency’s new programming policy shift, is an attempt to somehow bridge the terrifying rifts that split the disparate groups making up the Jewish people, especially between liberal Diaspora Jewry and their nationalist Israeli brethren.

Here's an update from Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, that was sent out via a KOACH email blast:
Update from Natan Sharansky
Jerusalem, 2nd Av התש"ע
July 13, 2010

Dear Friends,

I am writing to bring you up to date on developments over the past 48 hours related to the conversion bill of MK David Rotem. As you may recall from my letter in March, the implications of this bill could be profound for Israel-Diaspora relations.

In a surprise move apparently calculated to enable quick, unopposed passage of his bill, MK David Rotem brought it before the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee on Monday morning.

After vociferous debate in which many MKs expressed deep-seated opposition to the bill, it nevertheless passed the committee by a vote of 5-4, rallying the support of MKs from Israel Beitenu and the haredi parties Shas and Agudat Yisrael. The bill is expected to go to the Knesset plenum for the three required readings in the coming weeks, though, we hope, not before the Knesset goes into recess in the middle of next week.

When I spoke at the Knesset Law Committee, I explained to the MKs that the passage of this bill would send a loud message to world Jewrythat they had been betrayed and that Israel was questioning the legitimacy of their Judaism. Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America attended the Knesset Law Committee and explained cogently the implications of this legislation both to Knesset members and the media.

Once the bill passed through the committee, our efforts turned toward thwarting the intention to move the bill forward through the Knesset plenum in the few remaining days before the Knesset goes into its summer recess. That very day I had an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well as with Speaker Reuven Rivlin and cabinet ministers, in order to make sure that no additional surprises are in store for us in the days ahead.

In parallel, the Jewish Agency took to the airwaves and spoke to journalists about the urgent need to prevent a needless rift in the world Jewish community. I can assure you that the issue is becoming as important to Israelis as it is to Diaspora communities. In the past 48 hours, this issue has received a prominent place in the pages of Israel's newspapers and in Hebrew-language radio and television broadcasts, nearly all of which carried our message of the importance of unity in these difficult days.

We continue to meet with key players in the political system, as well as to keep up our efforts in the media. We are committed to ensuring that the Diaspora's position is heard clearly by all members of Knesset and ministers in the government so that they can fully understand the gravity of the consequences of this legislation

We will continue to update you as this important issue moves forward.

Natan Sharansky

Glenn Beck is an asshole

Glenn Beck, ugh. Nothing but a classless asshole. For a guy that appears on FOX News, which historically is pro-Israel (thank you, Rupert!), this is a sad, sad man.
Glenn Beck suggested that the Jews killed Jesus on his Fox News show Tuesday.

Beck's claim occurred in the midst of a long monologue about religion. In it, Beck attacked, among other things, social justice, liberation theology, Jeremiah Wright and Rev. Jim Wallis. He singled out liberation theology as a "perversion" that is connected to Marxism and presents the poor as victims of injustice.

Beck went on to say:

"This is kind of complex, because Jesus did identify with the victims. But Jesus was not a victim. He was a conqueror...Jesus conquered death. He wasn't victimized. He chose to give his life....If he was a victim, and this theology was true, then Jesus would've come back from the dead and made the Jews pay for what they did. That's an abomination."
Umm, Glenn, it was the Romans that killed him, not the Jewish people. You can watch the video here...comments begin at the six minute mark.
Interesting...the sponsor of that flotilla is tied to the Turkish elite. I can't say that I am surprised because, in all honesty, I am not surprised.
The Turkish charity that led the flotilla involved in a deadly Israeli raid has extensive connections with Turkey’s political elite, and the group’s efforts to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza received support at the top levels of the governing party, Turkish diplomats and government officials said.

The charity, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, often called I.H.H., has come under attack in Israel and the West for offering financial support to groups accused of terrorism. But in Turkey the group has helped Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan shore up support from conservative Muslims ahead of critical elections next year and improve Turkey’s standing and influence in the Arab world.

According to a senior Turkish official close to the government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the issue, as many as 10 Parliament members from Mr. Erdogan’s governing Justice and Development Party were considering boarding the Mavi Marmara, the ship where the deadly raid occurred, but were warned off at the last minute by senior Foreign Ministry officials concerned that their presence might escalate tensions too much.

When leaders of the charity returned home after nine Turks died in the Israeli raid, they were warmly embraced by top Turkish officials, said Huseyin Oruc, deputy director of the charity, who was aboard the flotilla.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jennifer Lawrence to play Mystique in X-Men: First Class

I just got word of this. Jennifer Lawrence has been cast in X-Men: First Class on the role of Mystique. If you are from Louisville and have seem her performances on both the small and big screen, then you know that Jennifer is certainly going places.
'Winter's Bone' star cast in 'X-Men: First Class' (exclusive)

Jennifer Lawrence, the actress who's been getting rave reviews for her work in "Winter's Bone," has been cast as Mystique in Fox's "X-Men: First Class."[...]

Matthew Vaughn has been casting a slew of younger actors to play opposite James McAvoy, who is playing Professor Charles Xavier, and Michael Fassbender, who is portraying Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto. Nicholas Hoult, Alive Eve, Caleb Landry Jones and Aaron Johnson are among those playing mutants looking for mentor figures and teachers to guide them with their powers. Kevin Bacon is playing the villain, whose identity has not been revealed, as the studio keeps plot details under lock and key.

Mystique, who was played by Rebecca Romijn in the trilogy, is a shapeshifter who can mimic other people, though she cannot replicate superpowers. In comics lore, she was revealed to be the mother of X-Man Nightcrawler.[...[

The role is a big jump in terms of exposure for Lawrence, who is generating awards buzz for "Winter's Bone," and also marks her first studio feature. The actress is about to topline thriller "The House at the End of the Street," which begins production in Ottawa in August, and will then segue to England for "X-Men."

Hillary Clinton for President?

Could it happen? Will it happen?

THe WSJ has an article about HRC.
And why would the Democratic Party want to do that? Because the re-election of President Obama is becoming more problematic. The latest Rasmussen Reports polls show the dramatic decline of the presidential approval index, the difference between those who "strongly approve" of Mr. Obama's performance and those who "strongly disapprove." It began at plus 25% when the new president was sworn in, and has steadily declined to minus 13%.

It isn't just the president whose poll numbers are falling fast. According to recent Harris polling, Vice President Biden viewed favorably by 26% of the public and unfavorably by 45%. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does even worse, 20% positive to 49% negative. A June Nevada poll gave Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, 33% approval and 52% disapproval.

But the greatest contrast and most interesting statistic is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's ratings: 45% favorable and only 35% unfavorable.

That is not surprising, and there are some obvious factors that suggest she might have a chance of defeating President Obama if she were to challenge him for the 2012 Democratic nomination.

First, as Peggy Noonan wrote earlier this month, the conclusion one hears from most "normal" American people is that the president "is in over his head, and out of his depth." Even most progressives agree that "the Obama presidency has been a big disappointment," according to Eric Alterman of The Nation. That means there's a big opportunity for Mrs. Clinton.

Second, she is physically and intellectually strong enough to take on a difficult campaign. She showed that running against Obama two years ago.

Third, she is one of the most experienced prospective candidates the Democratic Party has had in a long while: wife of a governor, U.S. first lady, senator and now secretary of state. This is a good record to run on as someone who knows how the government works.

Fourth, she is an experienced foreign-policy adviser who understands the threats to our national security: unresolved conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, rising threats of nuclear capability in Iran and North Korea, and uncertainties in Pakistan.

Fifth, experience will be even more important to voters in the 2012 presidential election, whose 2008 gamble on someone with little experience is proving costly.

Finally, Washington's deadly left-liberal policies that have propelled the American economy in a very bad direction can be turned around. If Mrs. Clinton made the case that America must get rid of the huge debt the current administration has created, must create much better economic growth with lower tax rates, and must strongly assist employer job creation, she would appeal to a broad voter coalition.
The only reason this would even have a remote chance of happening would be for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resign as SOS because politically, she can't fundraise while holding that position.

Rand Paul: "I'm still an idiot"

The National Review spoke to Rand Paul, and he gets into yet another fiasco:
On the campaign trail, he says, “I’m not thinking about Afghanistan; foreign policy is really a complete non-issue.” He hopes that if he makes it to the Senate, there will be “room for discussion” on foreign-policy issues within the party, especially on Afghanistan. “Within Republican and conservative circles, the position is somewhat monolithic,” he says. “But how long is long enough? It’s too simplistic to say there is never a time to come home, or that it’s unpatriotic to debate. There are reasonable people, conservatives like me, who believe that defense is the primary role of the federal government, but do not believe that you can make Afghanistan into a nation. It never has been one.” If he had the chance to ask General Petraeus some questions, he says he’d ask, “Is there an end? How can it end? And is it still in our interests?”

State Department may list IHH as terrorists

The US State Department is considering adding Turkish Muslim charity organization IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief) to the list of foreign terrorist organizations, Fox News reported Thursday. The report came after the organization financed and operated the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara on which nine people were killed in a confrontation with IDF soldiers.

According to the Fox News report, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner explained that the US government is examining whether the nongovernmental organization will be considered a terrorist group.

"I believe we are looking at the IHH, but it's a long process to designate something a foreign terrorist organization and ...there's nothing to announce on that," Toner said.

Despite some resistance from within the Obama administration, Fox News sources said that sections of the US Treasury Department are actively investigating the Turkish Muslim charity organization in an attempt to list it as a terror group. The Treasury Department has voiced worries about IHH with Turish officials in the past, yet refused to comment on the alleged considerations.

The IHH was recognized by US federal court papers in its role in a failed bomb plot of Los Angeles International Airport 10 years ago. A CIA report in 1996 classifies the group as having ties to terrorist groups.

The group was created in 1992 with the intended goal of aiding Bosnian Muslims but since then, it has evolved and spread to many locations throughout the world including Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Somali and the Palestinian territories.

The US State and Treasury Departments' investigations follow a letter written by a bipartisan group made up of 87 US senators to US President Obama in June in which the senators called upon Obama not to waiver his administration's support for Israel. The letter also requested Obama investigate IHH.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jim Bunning: "I am a classless asshole with no heart"

Jim Bunning humiliated himself again. Too put it in simpler terms, he's a classless asshole with no heart. The Hill has this quote:
"Because he was smart enough to die in 2010, there is zero tax liability on the estate tax. If he had died in 2009, or 2011, there would have been a $500 million tax liability to his estate in 2009, and in 2011 -- under the proposal that we have -- there would have been a $600 million liability."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DVR Alert: Jennifer Lawrence on Jimmy Fallon tonight

Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence (The Bill Engvall Show, Winter's Bone) will be appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It airs on the east coast at 12:35 AM (eastern)/11:35:PM (central) on NBC.

Please tune in or DVR.

RIP: George Steinbrenner

I offer my condolences to the New York Yankees, their fans, and the family of George Steinbrenner. Say what one can about the frequent coverage of the Yankees and Red Sox on ESPN but Steinbrenner has left a tremendous legacy on the game.

George Steinbrenner in his own words:
"Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," George Steinbrenner once said. "Breathing first, winning next."[...]

"I have nothing against long hair, but wearing a Yankee uniform represents tradition. I think a Yankee should look well-groomed. After all, I'm paying the bills and issuing the paychecks around here and I feel a certain way about the Yankee tradition." (Oct. 1977)

"I wouldn't sell the Yankees for anything. Owning the Yankees is like owning the Mona Lisa. You don't sell it." (Oct. 1979)

"When you start talking about the best team money can buy, the Red Sox have as many free agents as we do. They just didn't pay as much." (Oct. 1979)

"I'm like a fan. I live with the Yankees and I die with the Yankees." (March 1981)

"I clocked them. There are two guys in town looking for their teeth." -- After his reported fight with two Dodgers fans in an elevator in a Los Angeles hotel during the 1981 World Series (Oct. 1981)[...]

"Billy Martin will manage the entire season." (June 26, 1978; Martin was fired July 24th, the first of five times by Steinbrenner)[...]

"The next time you drive me to the wall, I'll throw you over it." -- To Martin (July 1977)

"What do you mean try? If I want to fire you, I'll fire you." -- After Martin doused him with World Series champagne and said "That's for trying to fire me." (Oct. '77)

"I would say our relationship really, and this may sound crazy -- we're pals." -- on Martin, who he hired and fired five times (Jan. 1983)

"I can't criticize Billy's style and personality. In many ways, it's a lot like mine." (Dec. 1983)
Bud Selig's statement on Steinbrenner's passing:
"On behalf of Baseball, I am very saddened by the passing this morning of George Steinbrenner. George was a giant of the game and his devotion to baseball was surpassed only by his devotion to his family and his beloved New York Yankees. He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends.

I have known George ever since he entered the game in 1972. He was my dear friend for nearly four decades. Although we would have disagreements over the years, they never interfered with our friendship and commitment to each other. Our friendship was built on loyalty and trust and it never wavered. We were allies and friends in the truest sense of the words.

My wife, Sue, and I pass on our deepest sympathies to the Steinbrenner family, to the New York Yankees and to all of his friends. We will miss him, especially tonight when the baseball family will be gathered at Angel Stadium for the All-Star Game."
ESPN has various reactions to Steinbrenner's death.

Yogi Berra:
"George was The Boss, make no mistake. He built the Yankees into champions and that's something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn't? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much."
Joe Torre:
"I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, great humanitarian, and a dear friend. I will be forever grateful that he trusted me with his Yankees for 12 years. My heart goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed in New York, Tampa and throughout the world of baseball. It's only fitting that he went out as a world champ."
Lou Piniella:
"George was like a father figure to me. He treated me well, he treated me fair and he gave me a wonderful opportunity to play and manage the game we all love. George will be remembered as one of the most influential and renowned owners of a franchise in sports history. He leaves a legacy of winning and an unwavering passion for success. My wife Anita and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees organization. George was very special to me and I loved him."
Don Mattingly:
"His vision, passion and commitment to winning, recharged the New York Yankees and revolutionized the game. I remember a man driven to succeed. He was the owner, "The Boss" and number one fan of the Yankees. Our relationship was built on mutual respect. I will never forget and always be grateful for how he treated me and my family both during my playing days and after I retired."
Dave Winfield:
"He didn't want to lose at all. A [player] had to come in there and want to win, know how to win, and lay it all on the line. Otherwise, they were in trouble ... they'll have to look at him as one of the top owners in sports."
Tim Raines:
"He was 'The Boss.' He wanted to win and I admired him for that. He might not have done things the way people expected them to be done, but he wanted to win. It's one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to New York, because he made sure his teams had an opportunity to win."
John Henry:
"I had the good fortune to call George Steinbrenner both partner and friend. I had the privilege to watch George as he built a system that ensured his beloved Yankees would have a strong foundation for sustained excellence. And then we fiercely competed in the American League. George Steinbrenner forever changed baseball and hopefully some day we will see him honored in baseball's Hall of Fame as one of the great figures in the history of sports."
Tom Werner:
"George Steinbrenner was a formidable opponent and baseball's greatest rivalry will not be the same without him. As the longest tenured owner, he left an indelible mark on the game. I worked with George in my position as the owner of two Major League franchises and saw first-hand his passionate leadership style, his zeal for winning, and his love for the game. Above all, I knew George as a competitor and today Red Sox Nation lost a person who truly relished the prospect of facing the Red Sox and doing all he could to make sure his beloved Yankees would come out victorious."
Tommy Lasorda:
"George was a friend who I admired very much. He was a giant in our game and he built an empire. All he was was a winner. He wanted to give the fans a winner, and that's exactly what he did."
Jerry Seinfeld:
"Who else could be a memorable character on a television show without actually appearing on the show? You felt George even though he wasn't there. That's how huge a force of personality he was."
Jason Alexander:
"I met the real George Steinbrenner on only one occasion when he actually came and played himself on an episode of "Seinfeld." He seemed to really enjoy himself. I did not get to know him but the fact that he allowed himself and his beloved team to be satirized on our show is an indication to me of his true character. He was certainly a legend and I am pleased to have been associated with him, even if only in fiction."
Rudy Giuliani:
"George was a friend of mine for over 30 years. He was truly the most influential and innovative owner in all of sports. He transformed baseball and sports broadcasting with the YES Network and brought New York seven World Series. Beyond that, he made the Yankees a source of great pride in being a New Yorker. George Steinbrenner's Yankees represent the will to overcome all odds which is precisely the will New Yorkers display when meeting every challenge they face."
Mario Cuomo:
"Everyone knows George Steinbrenner went from loser to legend by taking a second division team with a struggling franchise in 1973 and turning it into a champion again. But he was much more than a winner and a celebrity. There was no falseness in him. He did everything with his heart: His family, his friends, his team, his nation and his community. I'm not surprised that in the end he died by wearing it out."
Michael Bloomberg:
"Few people have had a bigger impact on New York over the past four decades than George Steinbrenner. George had a deep love for New York, and his steely determination to succeed combined with his deep respect and appreciation for talent and hard work made him a quintessential New Yorker."

Obama losing confidence

Confidence in President Obama is falling faster than Lebron Jersey sales in Cleveland.

Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.[...]

Overall, more than a third of voters polled -- 36 percent -- say they have no confidence or only some confidence in the president, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans. Among independents, this disillusionment is higher still. About two-thirds of all voters say they are dissatisfied with or angry about the way the federal government is working.

Such broad negative sentiments have spurred a potent anti-incumbent mood. Just 26 percent of registered voters say they are inclined to support their representative in the House this fall; 62 percent are inclined to look for someone new.

Democrats nationally remain on the defensive as they seek to retain both houses of Congress this fall. Registered voters are closely divided on the question of whether they will back Republicans or Democrats in House races. Among those who say they are sure to cast ballots in November, 49 percent side with the GOP and 45 percent with Democrats.

Overall, a slim majority of all voters say they would prefer Republican control of Congress so that the legislative branch would act as a check on the president's policies. Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent.

Economic worries continue to frame the congressional campaigns. Almost all Americans rate the economy negatively, although compared with the depths of the recession in early 2009, far fewer now describe economic conditions as "poor." Only about a quarter of all Americans think the economy is improving.

Recent economic developments -- a declining stock market, problems in the housing industry and an unemployment report showing only tepid job growth in the private sector -- may have bruised the president's ratings.

Just 43 percent of all Americans now say they approve of the job Obama is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Both are the worst, marginally, of his presidency. Even a third of Democrats give him negative marks here. And overall, intensity runs clearly against the president on the issue, with twice as many people rating him strongly negative as strongly positive.[...]

Public opinion is split down the middle on the question of whether the government should spend more money to stimulate the economy in a way that leads to job creation. Among those who support such new spending, 18 percent change their minds when asked what they think if such outlays could sharply increase the budget deficit. In that scenario, 57 percent opposed another round of spending.

About six in 10 Democrats say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who favors new government spending, while 55 percent of Republicans say they would be less likely to do so. Independent voters are divided on the question, with 41 percent more apt to oppose and 35 percent to support.[...]

Obama's overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, equaling his low point in Post-ABC polling; 47 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in his presidency, those who strongly disapprove now significantly outnumber those who strongly approve.

Among those who say they definitely will vote in November, 53 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his responsibilities.

The president's approval ratings reached a new low among whites, at 40 percent, with his positive marks dipping under 50 percent for the first time among white college-educated women.

On the issues tested in the poll, Obama's worst ratings come on his handling of the federal budget deficit, where 56 percent disapprove and 40 percent approve. He scores somewhat better on health-care reform (45 percent approve) and regulation of the financial industry (44 percent). His best marks come on his duties as commander in chief, with 55 percent approving.

Obama's overall standing puts him at about the same place President Bill Clinton was in the summer of 1994, a few months before Republicans captured the House and Senate in an electoral landslide.

President Ronald Reagan, who also contended with a serious recession at the outset of his first term, was a little lower at this point in 1982, with a 46 percent to 45 percent split on his approval ratings. Republicans went on to lose about two dozen seats in the House that fall.

Of course, Reagan and Clinton subsequently rebounded and went on to win reelection easily. Obama advisers find some hope from that history, even as the historical record foreshadows Democratic losses this November.
On a related note, Michelle Obama wants you to visit the gulf coast.
“It is vacation time. Folks are looking for things to do with their kids, and this would be a great opportunity to do a few things -- help this community, send a different message about the extent of the spill, and also think long term about how the rest of the country can help this economy and the folks down here,” Mrs. Obama said at the Panama City Welcome Center.

The Obama family will be taking a mini-vacation of their own this weekend, but instead of going to the Gulf Coast they are traveling to Maine’s Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.

Mrs. Obama said the word needs to get out to Americans that there are “beautiful beaches” along the Gulf Coast and it’s a great time for families to come down with their kids.

“There are still thousands of miles of beaches that have not been touched by the spill,” the first lady said. “And there are communities that thrive on tourism and on the economic power of beaches that have not been damaged.”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ed Norton speaks

Ed Norton, the mose recent film version of Dr. Bruce Banner, speaks out about the recent decision that Marvel made.
As most of you know, I don’t like to talk much about the business of making movies because it means a lot to me to protect the audience’s fullest enjoyment of the ‘magic’ that films can have. But I am so appreciative of the outpouring of support from fans of the Hulk and the Avengers that I feel it would be rude not to respond. So here goes: It seems it won’t work out for me to continue playing Bruce Banner for Marvel in The Avengers. I sincerely hoped it would happen and be great for everyone, but it hasn’t turned out as we all hoped. I know this is disappointing to many people and that makes me sad. But I am very sincerely grateful to Marvel for extending the offer and even more so for giving me the chance to be a part of the Hulk’s long and excellent history. And I really can’t thank the fans enough for how much enthusiasm you’ve sent my way about what Louis [Leterrier] and I tried to do in our turn with the legend. It means a lot to me. I grew up with Banner and the Hulk and have been a fan of every incarnation. I’m really proud, and very blessed, to have been one of them and will be thrilled to see him live on through other actors. Hulk is bigger than all of us, that’s why we love him, right?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

WME Entertainment Fires Back at Marvel

Great news in that WME Entertainment, the agency that represents Edward Norton, has fired back against Kevin Feige and Marvel.
Now in an email to HitFix, which broke the original story, Brian Swardstrom of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment calls Fiege’s statement “offensive” and “a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light.”

Swardstrom lays out a sequence of events that began two months ago, when Feige reportedly called to see whether Norton would be interested in playing Banner and continued with “a very good meeting” between the actor and still-unannounced director Joss Whedon. That led to an offer from Marvel, followed by contract negotiations. However, on Wednesday, the agent writes, “after several weeks of civil, uncontentious discussions,” they were told the studio “had decided to go in another direction with the part.”

“We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result,” Swardstrom writes, “but this is no excuse for Feige’s mean spirited, accusatory comments. Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss and the other actors in the Avengers cast, many of whom are personal friends of his. Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans.
Hitfix has the entire email from Norton's agent.